Location: Iowa, United States

61 years old (pretty old for a blogger) proud to be a grandpa

Monday, August 29, 2005

This just in from Britain (really)

29/08/05 - News section
You can use the f-word in class (but only five times)
A secondary school is to allow pupils to swear at teachers - as long as they don't do so more than five times in a lesson. A running tally of how many times the f-word has been used will be kept on the board. If a class goes over the limit, they will be 'spoken' to at the end of the lesson.
The astonishing policy, which the school says will improve the behaviour of pupils, was condemned by parents' groups and MPs yesterday. They warned it would backfire.
Parents were advised of the plan, which comes into effect when term starts next week, in a letter from the Weavers School in Wellingborough, Northamptonshire.
Assistant headmaster Richard White said the policy was aimed at 15 and 16-year-olds in two classes which are considered troublesome.
'Tolerate but not condone'
"Within each lesson the teacher will initially tolerate (although not condone) the use of the f-word (or derivatives) five times and these will be tallied on the board so all students can see the running score," he wrote in the letter
"Over this number the class will be spoken to by the teacher at the end of the lesson."
Parents called the rule 'wholly irresponsible and ludicrous'.
"This appears to be a misguided attempt to speak to kids on their own level," said the father of one pupil.
Should have do's and don'ts
Nick Seaton, chairman of the Campaign for Real Education, said: "In these sort of situations teachers should be setting clear principles of 'do and don't'.
"They should not be compromising in an apparent attempt to please the pupils. This will send out completely the wrong message.
"Youngsters will play up to this and ensure they use their five goes, demeaning the authority of the teacher."
Tory MP Ann Widdecombe said the policy was based on 'Alice in Wonderland reasoning'.
"What next?" she asked. "Do we allow people to speed five times or burgle five times? You don't improve something by allowing it, you improve something by discouraging it."
'Praise postcards'
The 1,130-pupil school, which was criticised as 'not effective' by Ofsted inspectors last November, also plans to send 'praise postcards' to the parents of children who do not swear and who turn up on time for lessons.
Headmaster Alan Large said he had received no complaints about the policy. "The reality is that the fword is part of these young adults' everyday language," he said.
"As a temporary policy we are giving them a bit of leeway, but want them to think about the way they talk and how they might do better."

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Why I would rather scrape gum off the bottoms of chairs than be a manager

Several years ago I had the responsibility of managing several librarians and one computer support person. Bob, one of the veteran librarians and a kind of self proclaimed computer maven resented Gary, the new and younger computer guy who obviously knew much more. Unlike Bob, Gary also liked to cut to the chase and just get things done without talking and thinking things to death. So he made himself useful around the place by fixing gliches and tweaking software--sometimes helping out and meeting with the folks in Bob's department without going through Bob (Bob had a point here). Gary also had a playful sense of humor and in an idle minute or two had decorated the small photo of the staff that he kept in his office by giving some extra "features" to each face. As I recall there was an arrow through my head, fangs on the boss, and something goulish on his own mug. Bob had horns. I didn't give this much thought until Bob showed up in my office with a grim look on his face. The conversation went something like this:

"I'd like to talk to you about Gary"
"OK. So what's the problem?"
"Did you see the staff photo in his office?"
"Yeah, I guess so."
"Did you see what he drew on my head?"
"I don't remember."
"Well, he's drew horns on me. I've got horns coming out of my head."
"Yeah," I said, trying not to laugh. "He put something on everybody. I think he put an arrow through my head."
"Well, on me, he put horns. He thinks I'm like the devil."
"I'm not sure I'd draw that conclusion."
"Yes, he does. That's why he picked horns for me. Why else would he do it?"
"Maybe he just chose the decorations at random."
"No, I'm sure that's not the case. He sees me pretty much as the enemy."
"Well, would you like me to say something to him?"
"Well that's up to you, but I don't see this situation getting any better."
"So you think there's a real problem here?"
"Well, yeah, don't you? I mean, look what he's done."
"OK, let me think about it."

A day later, I talk to Gary and tell him that Bob doesn't like his horns. Gary says he didn't mean to offend anybody; I say, I know that; Gary says he'll take the picture down and does so. End of story--I thought it had a point when I began but it obviously does not. Since I typed it all out, though, I'm posting it anyway.